Kinder Chocolate, the flagship offering of the Ferrero confectionery brand, will be available in the U.S. for the first time starting in August.
Catherine Bertrac, senior vice president of marketing for Kinder and mainstream chocolate for Ferrero USA, said the company has been gearing up for its biggest U.S. launch over the last several years.
“It was time to complete our Ferrero legacy of what we call the legacy portfolio of Kinder,” she said.
Ferrero’s Kinder brand launched in Europe in 1968. Kinder chocolates first came to the U.S. five years ago with the introduction of Kinder Joy. Kinder Bueno was introduced in 2019, and then seasonal products started appearing in 2020.
The Kinder Chocolate bar was created by Michele Ferrero in Alba, Italy 55 years ago. The small bars, first designed for parents to give children, are made of Kinder’s signature milk chocolate and have a creamy dairy-based filling.
“We expect to bring another quality of chocolate — not only quality of the ingredients, but quality of the recipes and different tastes,” Bertrac said. “It's a new experience in a simple chocolate that’s so different from what’s existing.”
Bertrac said the Kinder Chocolate bars that will go on sale in the U.S. are identical to the ones sold in other countries. There is no U.S.-specific reformulation.
Expanding its U.S. business, Bertrac said, has been one of Ferrero’s biggest ambitions. Through careful consumer research, targeted acquisitions and launch timings, Betrac said it has been able to push toward that goal.
Since launching in the U.S., Kinder brand sales have totaled more than $500 million. Kinder Joy, the chocolate eggs that feature both candy and a toy, is the top-selling mainstream chocolate innovation in the last five years, Ferrero says. Kinder Bueno is positioned as an “everyday premium” chocolate bar, and is currently a $209 million brand in North America, the company says.
Ferrero is looking to grow that business not only by bringing the signature part of its Kinder portfolio to the U.S., but also by literally building its presence here.
In 2021, the company began construction on its first chocolate processing facility in the United States in Illinois.
Eight months after starting work on that facility, Ferrero announced it was adding a 169,000-square-foot expansion to the under-construction portion.
The new expansion will be used to manufacture Kinder Bueno bars, the first time chocolate under the brand has been made in the U.S. Bertrac said the first Kinder Bueno bars should roll out of that facility in September 2024.
Bertrac said acquisitions and new capabilities also are helping Ferrero expand its U.S. business. The company bought Nestlé’s U.S. candy business in 2018, and has made improvements on some of the signature products, including Butterfinger and Crunch bars.
Ferrero also acquired several of Kellogg’s cookie brands, including Keebler and Famous Amos, in 2019. These brands, which Bertrac referred to as the U.S.’ “local jewels,” will largely be what the company works on at its new 45,000-square-foot innovation center in Chicago.
Ferrero has remained active in building out its footprint and expanding its reach into new categories in the U.S. It announced its intent to buy ice cream maker Wells Enterprises in December.
Bertrac said Ferrero has a “strong agenda” for continuing to expand the Kinder brand in North America over the next 12 to 18 months, especially with more targeted holiday and seasonal products.
“We have a growing business on the seasonal part so we can expand the portfolio more and more, and embed more and more our brand and products in the American culture,” she said.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly classified the Kinder Joy product. It is the number one selling mainstream chocolate innovation in the last five years.